Watch Audi E-Tron Undergo All-Wheel-Drive Stress Test
The all-electric SUV can hold its own against the desert sand.
Audi's upcoming E-Tron SUV is the automaker's newest offering to the all-electric vehicle market. Recently, Autogefühl had the opportunity to attend an Audi-sponsored event in the Namibia salt flats and the savanna, allowing the SUV to have its new all-wheel-drive system stress tested in a myriad of less than ideal conditions.
The video shows the E-Tron being driven hard around a series of tight corners at the edge of Namibia's Kalahari Desert. Its sandy conditions help to mimic a similar driving style that one might experience with tightly-packed snow, and though the tested vehicle is still technically a concept, Audi stuffed the actual production E-Tron drivetrain into the car; meaning that the performance in the video is likely very close to what will be available for consumers to purchase.
Using two electric motors, the E-Tron is easily able to maintain its composure thanks to the precision control that is enabled by moving away from a mechanically-linked drivetrain. Instead of power being delivered using a series of gearing through the transmission, transfer case, and differentials, the E-Tron decides how much power to put down to each individual wheel using a series of sensors. This technique, known as torque vectoring, helps to increase the stability and improve the overall performance of a vehicle in corners.
Audi put a great deal of thought into how its next-generation Quattro drivetrain should feel. This led the automaker into placing its performance motor in the rear of the vehicle, allowing for a rear-wheel bias when requested by the driver. By placing the vehicle into sport mode or disabling traction control altogether, the driver is able to effortlessly step-out the rear-end of the E-Tron in a smooth, controlled powerslide across the sand.
The E-Tron's normal driving mode produces a modest 300 horsepower and 414 pound-feet of torque, though the SUV does feature a "boost mode" which increases the power output to a respectable 402 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque. Boost mode is limited to eight-second bursts, though its refractory period is an unknown.
Additionally, the electric SUV features other small performance-oriented features, including launch control, which Autogefühl tested on the desert sand. This function is accessed by pressing the brake and gas at the same time, preloading the electric motors for takeoff. Despite the otherwise sleek terrain, the E-Tron is still able to accelerate from zero-to-60 with minimal slippage.
Audi has prided itself in its Quattro namesake for years and earning the well-received reputation for its agile all-wheel-drive system was not an easy task. The E-Tron will be the first production all-electric SUV in the automaker's lineup to feature a non-mechanical drivetrain, and the video certainly shows that the brand has kept true to its trademark German slogan, “Advancement Through Technology.”